Saturday, 15 March 2008

Putting yourself out there

For a long time now, it has been unfashionable to emotionally connect to people - particularly in business. There are many theories about this, but my guess is that for a long time, businesses have neglected emotions in favour of more left-brained activities like analytical reasoning and objective thinking - notwithstanding various illicit emotional entanglements and sexual harassment cases that have damaged businesses since time immemorial.

There is also a perception that emotions can 'get in the way' of objective work. But these are only the negative emotions. People who do not connect emotionally and positively, are missing out on a fantastic aspect of business. They also risk isolating themselves, which can really inhibit vital lines of communication. 

To avoid all these complicated emotional issues, business has evolved an emotionally neutral language that negates all feelings in an almost victorian manner. This has led us to a place where we are all terrified of acknowledging our feelings and unwilling to make any decisions. 

Unable to express our true feelings, we have become so risk-averse that for every step forward, we take two steps back. To make matters worse, the only business areas that allow us to acknowledge the way we are feeling is 'Health and Safety' and 'Risk Mitigation'. How many times have you not been allowed to move the business forward because the so-called experts won't let you because it hasn't been triple-checked and signed off by three committees?

Business and the wider society is in serious danger of becoming a terrified, emotionally crippled consumer - desperately needing to move forward, but terrified of the risks it has to take and the sacrifices it has to make in order to get there.

The best way to guard against negative emotions is not to suppress all emotions in the workplace. As I have said in previous articles, negative feelings are natural, but the best way to deal with them is to focus on the positives. 

So let's focus on LOVE.... Oooh scary!

Love is not sex - so unless you are otherwise inclined, start with the friends/colleagues of your own gender. And as the song suggests - love is a verb - a doing word. Soften your dress habits - i.e. don't power dress. Smile more and make eye contact. Find opportunities so mix more. Have lunch with people outside your usual social group. Look for reasons to praise and compliment your friends. Ask them about their lives. Find out what their passion is. Try a hand placed briefly on the back or shoulder (appropriately).

If such behaviour scares you, remember my previous article about risk, and move out of your comfort zone. The more you do it, the better you will get at it. Remember, you get what you focus on.  If you give love in the spirit of respect and mutual cooperation, you will be rewarded in ways you never imagined.

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